Tuesday, 14 January 2014

women in architecture - Architect's Journal 6 Feb 2013

women in architecture and why they leave it

Women in architecture

The RIBA did commission research to find out why there are so few women in architecture. 
Why do women leave architecture? by Ann de Graft-Johnson, Sandra Manley and Clara Greed - University of the West of England, Bristol, May 2003 
The key findings were: 
“UWE found that there was no definitive answer to the central question. A number of identifiable problems did however come to light. The reasons why women left tended to be a combination of a number of factors and or a ‘final straw’ moment. Some of the key issues are as follows:
  • Low pay
  • Unequal pay
  • Long working hours
  • Inflexible/unfamily friendly working hours
  • Sidelining
  • Limited areas of work
  • Glass ceiling
  • Stressful working conditions
  •  Protective paternalism preventing development of experience
  • Macho culture
  • Sexism
  • Redundancy and or dismissal
  • High litigation risk and high insurance costs
  • Lack of returner training
  • More job satisfaction elsewhere
There was little evidence that women left because they were incompetent designers or that they no longer wanted to be architects.” 
One respondent had written, “At the *** School of Architecture, the attitudes of certain tutors towards averagely talented members of my class was dismissed and utterly shocking. I was lucky I had the strength of character to come out of the course relatively unscathed. I saw three highly intelligent individuals suffer a complete breakdown in confidence due to the tutors on this course. You could pass every other aspect of the course with 100 per cent, but if your design work was not favoured, you were left to rot. I cannot stress strongly enough how favouritist this school is. It is not a sexist issue, but a taste issue in terms or what design style is “flavour of the month” with certain tutors.”
I would add to the list above that sometimes, like me, there are just failed unfairly and thereby kept out of the profession.

During my time at architecture school there was not one female tutor/lecturer, but changing their gender won’t improve the standard of architecture education. It needs a complete overhaul and this is currently a hot topic and being written about at great length by Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, (see dezeen online magazine).

In uk architecture schools both male and female students are treated badly so I prefer not focus too much on the gender issue. I haven’t done so in my book BRICK WALL which is an honest account of my experiences as a young woman at three architecture schools in the uk. 

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